23 Comments

Summary:

[qi:004] Update: Some customers of Verizon’s (VZ) high-speed FiOS Internet Service are reporting that when they mistype a website address, they are redirected to a Verizon’s own search engine page, regardless of what they have set as default. Verizon had introduced “Advanced Web Search” in June […]

[qi:004] Update: Some customers of Verizon’s (VZ) high-speed FiOS Internet Service are reporting that when they mistype a website address, they are redirected to a Verizon’s own search engine page, regardless of what they have set as default. Verizon had introduced “Advanced Web Search” in June 2007.

Cox and Earthlink (ELNK) have dabbled in similar search-jackings, and if you use Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, a mistyped URL leads you to MSN Search page. On the surface, it seems this is to save Verizon customers the hassle, but it is also a nice way for the incumbent to goose up their revenues via advertising. The ads on the site come from Yahoo (YHOO) and Ask (IAC).

Sure, they can’t beat Google, but they can game the system in their favor. Thus far, domain squatters have benefitted from mistyped web addresses, and seems like large ISPs are waking up to “money making opportunity.” If this trend spreads across the world, then pure-play search engines, especially Google have a reason to be concerned.

Verizon has an opt-out option for its Advanced Web Search service. Why make it a default – is what I ask. If they are just offering it as a helpful add-on, then make it an opt-in feature. Let the customer decide, what and where do they want to do. I have emailed Verizon to get their side of the story. Stay tuned.

Update from Verizon Spokesperson:

The industry went to this approach a couple of years ago.  Many others have similar procedures and this has become a de facto industry standard.

The money we make from ad sales on this site offsets some (probably not all) of the cost of providing it.  Nice as it is to get the cash, it’s not a significant income stream for a company like ours. Our procedure hardly makes a case that Verizon is unfairly competing with sites like Google or MSN or Yahoo that also offer search.

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  1. Rocky Agrawal Sunday, November 4, 2007

    Install Yahoo, Google or AOL’s toolbars and the default install options all change your error page to use their search engines.

  2. FIOS isn’t the only one…i’m on dsl and my typo traffic is getting jacked as well.

  3. Could this be avoided by not using Verizon’s DNS?

  4. Nathan Gilliatt Sunday, November 4, 2007

    This is a real pain. The automatic redirect prevents editing of URL typos. Even a one-letter error leads to typing the whole thing again, since the URL isn’t in the address bar to be edited after the redirect. With a domain squatter, at least I don’t have to retype the whole thing.

  5. “Could this be avoided by not using Verizon’s DNS?”

    Yes. They are just doing a DNS redirect. I would suggest using different DNS servers to get around this stupidity.

    I use OpenNIC for my DNS as I find their servers to be mighty fast. http://www.opennic.unrated.net/public_servers.html

  6. Martin Bosworth Sunday, November 4, 2007

    Om,

    Thanks for the link and bringing attention to this issue. I’m looking forward to hearing what Verizon has to say about it.

  7. Pragnesh Vaghela Sunday, November 4, 2007

    Charter Communications does it too.

  8. Yikes! Verizon is forgetting money making and marketing rule number 1- Keep your customers happy.

    Thanks for the head’s up!

  9. Scott Schiller Sunday, November 4, 2007

    While annoying, at least they didn’t “break the Internet” like Verisign in 2003 with their “Site Finder” service, which pulled similar tricks on a more global scale.

    ..According to this article, anyway. ;)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Site_Finder

  10. Noticed this with my connection (FIOS in DC) in the past couple of weeks. Very annoying. Thanks for the link, Zac.

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